- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Trying little-known option to seal a leaky lung
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) - The final straw came when Guy Vance’s chest, neck and face ballooned, little air bubbles in his skin crackling to the touch _ all because of a leak somewhere in his lung.
Air was seeping into his chest cavity and under his skin, seeking another escape route. Two earlier surgeries had failed to seal the leak. A drainage tube implanted in the 63-year-old’s chest offered only a temporary, painful solution.
Lots of problems _ lung diseases, chest trauma, thoracic surgery _ can cause an air leak in the lung’s delicate lining, in turn making the lung partially collapse. Fortunately, the vast majority of leaks seal themselves in about a week. But a fraction of those people, like Vance, suffer prolonged air leaks that just won’t heal, triggering repeated, expensive hospitalizations and complications like infections from chest tubes.
Enter endobronchial valves, a little-known option to treat persistent leaky lungs without further surgery _ they’re slid in through the windpipe. And they soon might be used for more than those rare prolonged leaks: Experiments are under way to see if the valves also could help advanced emphysema.
But wedging these valves into just the right spot can be tricky. Minutes after Mortman snaked a camera into the top of Vance’s right lung came the discovery that his airways don’t form the normal three-way branch, but a narrowed, two-way tunnel.
“As much as I like this gentleman, we knew he wasn’t going to make it easy for us,” sighed Mortman, who just a month earlier had hopped a plane to Redmond, Wash., to learn the procedure from valve maker Spiration Inc.
Vance’s odyssey began with lung cancer in 2004. Radiation left his right lung particularly fragile, vulnerable to leaking. Last fall, doctors slid a flap of muscle into Vance’s chest cavity to help seal off a persistent leak that left him breathless, but it didn’t work. They operated again in early spring, unsuccessfully. Vance was in and out of the hospital for months, his worst episode that scary swelling called subcutaneous emphysema.
The idea: Blocking air from entering the bad section of his lung decreases pressure on the leak and might help it heal. Spiration’s IBV valve looks like a metal umbrella and acts like a one-way plug, blocking new air from flowing past but letting stale air or mucus escape.
“We’re doing this for quality of life, to get the tube out of his chest and prevent him from being readmitted to the hospital,” said Mortman, who navigates Vance’s radiation-scarred bronchial tubes with the slightest motion of the tube in his trachea.
Angle, move up a millimeter, reposition, measure. Finally Mortman picks a spot. An assistant gently moves a plunger to unfold the valve _ but it springs out of place. The airway was too tight a squeeze. Mortman pulls out the valve and finds a better position.
Mortman’s third try hooks into place. Swinging the catheter into an adjoining airway, Mortman then hooks in another valve to seal off that direction, too. It will take a few weeks to tell if the leak finally heals, but Vance goes home the next day, breathing OK.
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- NAPOLITANO: Pope Francis should be saving souls, not pocketbooks
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
How does our 50th state view D.C. politics?
White House pets gone wild!